Mobile computing devices have changed the way we look at computing. Laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs) have unchained us from our desktop computers. A group of researchers at AT&T; Laboratories Cambridge are preparing to put a new spin on mobile computing. In addition to taking the hardware with you, they are designing a ubiquitous networking system that allows your program applications to follow you wherever you go.

Photo courtesy AT&T; Laboratories Cambridge
This diagram shows how users and objects will have zones that activate the objects as a user approaches them.

By using a small radio transmitter and a building full of special sensors, your desktop can be anywhere you are, not just at your workstation. At the press of a button, the computer closest to you in any room becomes your computer for as long as you need it. In addition to computers, the Cambridge researchers have designed the system to work for other devices, including phones and digital cameras.

As we move closer to intelligent computers, they may begin to follow our every move. In this edition of How Stuff WILL Work, we will look at the parts of such a system and how they allow our data and information to move with us.